As a devotee of superheroes in most all their varied forms, I often find myself more interested in the team books, where the likes of Tigra or Vibe work as parts of a larger whole without cynics picking apart their accents or their silly bikini costumes.  In the Japanese Super Sentai tradition, heroes usually come in teams of five (though three and six are pretty common, and the last batch got up to ten, if I’m counting correctly), allowing the heroes to fill different archetypical roles, from stoic to clown to princess and back.  A character like Polar Boy (one of my fave-raves, I might add) may not be able to carry a solo series of his own, but makes for a fascinating moving part in the greater whole of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The same goes for even beloved characters like Cyborg, or fan-favorites like Wolverine (who, in my opinion, is never as much fun without other costumes to contrast him.)  This doesn’t go for Matter-Eater Lad, whose chutzpah alone makes him fascinating, but it does raise today’s query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) never really enjoyed the Human Torch in solo action, except maybe against Paste-Pot Pete, asking: What characters are only compelling to you when in team/group settings?

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

5 Comments

  1. X-Men certainly are meant to be a team. They need that group dynamic to work. Fortunately now with recent events, they made characters who were traditionally perceived as boring leaders like Cyclops much more interesting. That helps the whole team.
    Another one I cannot see any other form as various sized teams is the Legion. Huge roster and limited, often a bit silly powers make them ideal team players, apart maybe few exceptions like Mon El (basically Superman).
    I really am a team book guy, first stories I really remember reading and liking was Secret Wars. Didnt know more than maybe half of the cast but still loved it. I also usually prefer Avengers as a team compared to their members solo adventures.

  2. “In the Japanese Super Sentai tradition, heroes usually come in teams of five (though three and six are pretty common, and the last batch got up to ten, if I’m counting correctly)”

    Depends how you count it. It could be between 10 and 15 depending if you count that four of the powers were handed off, though the costumes/powers themselves didn’t change much, and there was a movie exclusive “evil Ranger” (of sorts, since the character did return in the series but without the Ranger costume/powers). I agree with the 10 count, but some people count the passed off powers as separate.
    http://powerrangers.wikia.com/wiki/Zyuden_Sentai_Kyoryuger#Characters

    But I think most Super Sentai teams do work best as a team. Sure, there are occasionally characters who are interesting enough that I could see them having solo stories, but for the most part I think many of them need a team to play off of, even if it isn’t their own team (such as some of the Legends appearances in Gokaiger).

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